[Marxism] Fwd: Why Vladimir Putin swore allegiance to ultra-conservatism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 18 06:17:52 MDT 2017

Although ultra-conservatism has always played a major role in Russian 
society, particularly outside the big cities, it was granted the status 
of Russia's unofficial ideology in 2012, after mass protests in Moscow 
against Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term.

In a keynote speech to parliament after the pro-democracy protests had 
been quelled, Putin declared that social and religious conservatism were 
the only ways to prevent Russia and the world from slipping into what he 
called "chaotic darkness." In a separate speech he also accused Western 
countries of betraying "Christian values" and pursuing polices that 
"place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex 
partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan."

Some analysts, such as Maria Lipman, editor of the Counterpoint journal, 
believe Putin's conservative shift was a deliberate attempt to 
"neutralize" those "urban, modernized, European" Russians who had dared 
challenge his power by associating them with "Western immorality and 

If that was the intention, then it worked.

Amid a spike in anti-West sentiments, Russians cheered on as Putin 
approved legislation that made it a criminal offense to "insult the 
feelings of religious believers" and promote "non-traditional sexual 
relationships." Cossacks, the descendants of the horsemen who once 
defended Russia's southern borders, were encouraged to act as Russia's 
new moral guardians, a role they performed with relish, while radical 
Orthodox Christian groups led nationalist marches through central 
Moscow. "Russians are trying to hold on to their traditional values," 
Igor Miroshnichenko, a member of the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers 
movement, whose activists wear black paramilitary gear festooned with 
skulls, told Vocativ. "But in Europe, they have caved in, and allow gay 
parades, same-sex marriage and so on."

This intolerance for anything that smacks of "liberal" Western values 
has also had serious consequences for Russia's national health, in 
particular its fight against a growing HIV and AIDS epidemic. Almost one 
million Russians are registered as having contracted HIV, out of a 
population of 143 million people, an almost twofold increase from 2010. 
Officials predict that up to three million Russians will be living with 
the virus by 2020.

Despite this, and the fact that many of the estimated 200 new infections 
day come through sharing needles, the Russian authorities have clamped 
down on volunteer groups such as the Andrei Rylkov Foundation for Health 
and Social Justice, the sole organization to hand out clean needles and 
condoms to drug addicts in Moscow. The foundation, which was often 
criticized by conservative groups, was forced this year to register as a 
"foreign agent," a ruling that severely restricts its ability to operate.

"This has led to full termination of HIV prevention activities in the 
country — there is no sex education, there is no drug education, there 
is no prevention work with any group of the population," Anya Sarang, 
director of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, told Vocativ.


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